When today’s soldiers sign up for duty, they nor their families consider the ‘what ifs’ after their family member returns home. Most of our veterans come home clueless as to what their next move in life will be; dealing with trauma and stress, its hard for them to adjust to ‘normal’ life.
Eventually, without assistance and family support they either end up homeless and forgotten or die after living a life of loneliness. Thanks to a kind heart of a fellow veteran, on June 6, 2016 Serina Vine didn’t have to leave this earth as such.
During the early days of June, Serina Vine, 91 passed away. She was a veteran of the Navy from 1944-1946 and a former victim of homelessness. Diagnosed with dementia in her early 50’s, Vine had taken up residence in a Veteran Affairs Community Living Center since 1995. With hobbies such as dancing and attending church, it was hard for Army Major Jaspen Boothe to fathom only 4 people being in attendance at Vine’s funeral.
Coming from a similar situation, Boothe could empathize with Vine. She too was once a homeless veteran, who currently supports and assists other women veterans through her non-profit organization Final Salute. Upon discovering the news of Vine’s funeral, Boothe took to several social veteran groups requesting their presence at the ceremony.
To her amazement, 200 people showed in attendance.
“I was thinking my efforts would make maybe 20 to 30 people show up, but when I arrived, there were hundreds of cars lined up,” Boothe said.
What is it about going to war for this country that once a serviceman or woman’s duty is up, they seem to easily be forgotten?
Ms. Vine’s story was slightly different than that of the average homeless veteran; she was taken care of until her final passing by the VA. However, there are plenty of stories of homeless veterans that can’t or don’t get help from the very government for whom they served.
Having family members in the military makes me worry about what their lives will be like once they exit. What type of job will they have? Will they be mentally stable? Will they be able to live a “normal” life? I would like to think they would, but the reality is, they just might not be able to. It should be a shame for our government to draft and send husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters to fight wars, that may or may not be legitimate, for reasons they may or may not even know and not care for them once they return home.
“In January 2015 47,725 veterans were homeless on a single night. Between 2014 and 2015, homelessness among veterans declined by 4 percent (or 1,964).”
Lets face it, there was no need for the government to address the insufficiency and incompetency of the Department of Veteran Affairs that unraveled in 2014, until suicides and deaths began happening at an alarming rate and they became the center of news media attention. At least we can say they have tried to make an effort to change.
Since 2010, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, veteran suicides have declined by over 30%. That is great, but the question remains how many more veterans will die, homeless, and alone, with no family or anyone around to say farewell?
Once a soldier returns home, and possibly before they ever become a veteran, they begin suffering throughout the rest of their lives from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse or co-occurring disorders. Most being victims of PTSD, even after going through treatment are still severely affected by their military experiences and can’t sustain consistent employment; which leads to incarceration and/or suicide.
With 21.2 million men and women veterans, accounting for about 9 percent of the civilian noninstituted population as of 2015, the jobless rate of 4.6 percent has been declining thanks to companies like Verizon, USAA and Lockheed Martin who have begun specialized employment of veterans, we have seen the unemployment rate among active military and veterans steadily decrease. Hopefully, more companies will realize how transferable military skills are to civilian jobs and hiring of veterans will become a norm; no longer abnormal.
If you know a veteran, or care to talk to some of the homeless (which 1 in 3 homeless are veterans) who are passed by on the streets everyday, please, offer what help you can. Sometimes a smile and short conversation is enough to keep them from committing suicide or crime. You never know if it will be your family member or friend out there one day. Let them know their lives matter more than just to serve duty and fight wars. Let them know they still have a life to live. Remind them they are human too. Veterans lives matter…not just on Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day, but Every day.
To help a veteran in need, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255 to connect with a qualified VA responder. You can also follow this link to chat online with a responder.